2005 Torres “Mas Rabell” Red Wine, Catalunya, Spain

Most of the time I buy my wines from proper wine stores. Not just because I like to support them, but also because I’m a firm believer in cultivating a relationship with good wine retailers, who will inevitably turn you on to wines you might not have known about or tried.

Sometimes, however, I’m wandering through the grocery store and something catches my eye (yes, sometimes I buy by the label, just like the rest of you) and I throw it in the cart. I came into possession of this wine in roughly that manner, with the additional variable of this being Wine Blogging Wednesday #35, which happens to focus on value priced red wines from Spain.

I should probably admit that my choice of the wine wasn’t entirely random, either. It was actually selected very specifically, as being the only red wine from Spain in roughly the $10 price range at my local Whole Foods that I hadn’t tasted before. So it came home with me.

And now it’s sitting here next to my computer, mostly untouched. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Anyone with sharp vision will be able to see that the label carries a very prominent name brand, a name that will be instantly recognizable to those who know even the smallest amount about Spanish wine. Torres is to Spain as perhaps Mondavi is to California. Or perhaps what Antinori is to Italy and the Rothschilds are to Bordeaux.

Indeed, for a time, the four of these families, or rather dynasties belonged to the same elite organization known as Primum Familiae Vini or “First Families of Wine” a sort of professional association for the oldest, most prestigious family-run winemaking dynasties in the world. The Mondavi family lost its membership when it sold its winery operations, but the Torres Family, now at least five generations old in its direct winemaking history (and more than 300 years old in its association with wine), continues to be a member.

Torres is now one of the largest producers of wine in Spain, making everything from luxury wines at the $50 to $70 price point, to some of the most inexpensive Spanish wines around, including this wine, which according to the Torres web site, was produced exclusively to be sold in restaurants.

Like many of the huge family-run wine empires of the world, Torres had humble beginnings, first as wine haulers, then as wine traders, and eventually as winegrowers and producers. As winemakers their wines were at first small local efforts, but through a combination of good winemaking and extreme business savvy, one of their wines, Sangre de Toro (that is remarkably still produced today), became the first Spanish wine to get truly global distribution. From there, it was only a small hop, skip, and jump to become the mega-producer they are today. I actually have no idea just how much wine Torres produces each year, other than just, a lot.

This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Carignane from the Catalunya appellation of Spain, the area surrounding Barcelona on Spain’s Northeastern corner. The wine is named after the fortified farmhouse on the Torres estate, and is aged for six months in a combination of French and American oak before bottling.

Tasting Notes:
Light to medium garnet in color this wine has a nose of ethyl alcohol, leather, and hints of red fruit. In the mouth it offers tart, somewhat taut red fruit flavors that are marred by a hard edge of acidity and the heat of alcohol. Light, leathery tannins give the wine some grip in the mouth, but there’s nothing much clinging to the palate after the first instant of flavor, making this a pretty unsatisfying wine, even for the price.

Food Pairing:
The flavor profile would suggest that it might be best with a rich dish like this lamb stew with lemon and figs.

Overall Score: 7.5

How Much?: $11

This wine is available at your local Whole Foods, and presumably select restaurants throughout the world. But I recommend skipping it.